On the weekend of the 8th – 9th October I took part in the Sick Kids Save Point 24 hour gaming marathon.
The marathon itself didn’t go as well as I had hoped and from keeping up with the other folk on twitter and making my own mistakes, I’ve learnt a lot about what I should do if I get the opportunity again. There were two major mistakes really. First of all I did the marathon alone. It is still of course do-able but in future I’d be better having company in the flat and failing that, opting for some online multiplayer action with the good chaps at Kill Frenzy. Saying this, I can quite happily get by, however when the going gets tough its of course nice to have a bit of banter and pick up your spirits.
Perhaps more of an issue was how I selected and played the original Grand Theft Auto. I picked it as it was a game that I’d never completed due to the major issues with progression, in particular the terrible lack of any saving or checkpoints system. Ordinarily if I’m tiring of a game I’ll save and try something different, however of course you can’t do this with Grand Theft Auto meaning that either I lose all progress over the past hour or two, or I keep going. The game is no doubt possible to complete in a 24 hour stint, probably less, but it requires a very high success level. Maintaining a high level of focus in a very arcadey and somewhat unpredictable game that doesn’t have the benefit of some modern common features for such a long time is a massive challenge and this is where I failed. In hindsight, I should just have used cheat codes and blown stuff up!
I’ll discuss my thoughts on GTA, a game that I hyped as my favourite of all time, further in a different article, however I would like to take a few moments to rattle through the various games that I played.
Duke Nukem 3D
I didn’t play this as much as I’d have liked but I was playing quite poorly, perhaps jaded by GTA. That said, it still plays fantastically. Okay the objects and enemies are quite clearly sprites and the audio was atrocious, but the gameplay is first rate. Level design has some good combat environments and there’s loads of little easter eggs and secrets too find. Whilst the combat model would be considered weak if MW2 is taken as the standard, I personally loved it. Everything felt fast, slick and I still felt a punch in using the weapons, especially the shotgun!
Fruit Ninja Kinect
Playing this gave me a bit of a lift as it required plenty of energy, was completely different to everything else in my games collection for the marathon and above all, was fun! The GUI can be annoying as a couple of times I wanted to switch mode but minor gestures were taken as selecting “Retry”. I promised to play this game dressed as a ninja should people raise £300 and that target got smashed so I put together a home made outfit and ninja’d it up! Thoroughly recommend the game, so much that I am raffling a copy of to anyone that donates! Let me know if you want your name in the hat.
Rise of Nightmares
My other Kinect game for the marathon was Rise of Nightmares and this was quite the opposite on the enjoyment spectrum. The actual gameplay, levels and dialog is rather enjoyable and aside from the odd bit of dodgy acting and having to stand perfectly still to avoid being seen, I really like the game. That however is only when the game, Kinect sensor and myself are working smoothly together. Throughout my stint, pretty much non-stop throughout it, I was being nagged to step back and come closer, all without moving. Ignoring the annoying messages, I found the controls were often a little unresponsive. Not what you want when in a desperate fight with three well armed zombies!
I’ve never been to good at platform games but the speed at which Sonic moved meant this this was one game that I still really enjoyed. Unfortunately I obviously am quite out of touch as I died fairly often, but it is still good fun and hard to criticise. My suckiness and lives based progress meant that I only reached the Athens / Rome style levels and as I wasn’t too fond of them, I switched to Sonic 2.
Didn’t play too far but I’ll tell you what, I loved the Chemical Plant. The music was cheesey retro brilliance and most the time I was moving at what felt like a million miles an hour. I didn’t however like the sections where the game slowed down, requiring well timed jumps to negotiate moving blocks etc.
Sonic 3 & Knuckles
I barely played it and what I did play wasn’t as hot as the others. One day I’ll try giving it a more serious try out.
Coronation Street: Mystery of the Hot Pot Recipe
I was looking for a manhole in a cabby’s office, transparent chocolate stuck to walls and 15 nearly invisible shoes, some of which were the size of a sofa. This game is absolutely dreadful. Still, I completed it and this time managed to screenshot the recipe, which as a point of interest is only fully visible for a split second thanks to a well timed & placed popup. After enduring all that they could at least let us have a gander at it!
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
I’m a big fan of the game but had a bit of a ‘mare. My first map was a dreadful negative K/D ratio and I broke even for the next couple of games. When your team works well together, it is a real joy to play but as with all online team based games, if your side is crap it can be frustrating. That said, was nice to be able to rank in the top end of the scoreboard even when I’ve been gaming solid for ~18-20 hours!
I do love this game and when things were really getting hard and I was very worried about my ability to complete the marathon, this perked me right up! The simple gameplay was welcoming, along with being able to pick some tunes that I knew would raise my spirits. After a bit of industrial metal, albeit not the best out there, got me sharpening up my reflexes, Miku Hatsune put me in a right ol’ good mood.
Plants Vs Zombies
After losing my save game I am currently re-completing it, albeit going through the pond and night levels which I am less fond of. The game isn’t particularly challenging second time round as my usual tactics are pretty solid, although if you have your save game they do make the second time more difficult!
I haven’t got the latest incarnation of EA’s cash cow and I don’t care for it. I was just starting my Virtual Pro’s first league game for Wolfsburg, having signed from Carlisle United. 30 minutes in I got sent off when going to cross, *just* to get tackled as I hit the key. Bah! Went on to back a hat trick and bunch of other goals so made up for it somewhat. One thing that bugs me is stamina. I don’t like idling about, especially as you get penalised for it, but constantly sprinting to get back or try to get in behind the defence means that the next game I’m having to amble about at a snails pace. That said, I do like just pottering about passing the ball, getting it back, passing again then working a shooting opportunity.
Football Manager 11
I actually started this at 10:15 on Sunday, just after recording the short video to summarise the 24 hours. That said, I love finding young stars and its great to see my central midfield, two kids bought for a total of £7m, performing on the highest stage! That said, I lost my first game in about 6 months. Thankfully it was a friendly!
It was nice to have a Facebook game that actually involved playing another person, rather than just visiting people’s cities, homes, farms etc. However I do think there’s a bit of room for improvement in notification of when it’s your go, or when someone moves. I’d also like to note that there’s no way I should have got away with “ex” and “nub”. Nice idea from Outplay and it is good to play something a little different. After the disgust of reading comments on a sports blog today, the UK public needs some spelling practice!